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Autumn into Winter

There’s a stillness at Turn Moss at this time of year, but don’t be deceived; the wildlife is as busy as ever.

Pick a still morning, at early light, and look for thousands of gossamer silken threads, cast into the air by tiny spiderlings hoping to catch the breeze and find a new home. Air currents whisk the little aeronauts high into the atmosphere and transport them far away, sometimes for hundreds of miles across mountains and  oceans.

Notice our beautiful American Ash trees turning red and gold as the days grow shorter. The lack of tannin in the leaves of this ash species makes the tree a good food source for small mammals and amphibians. In its native America the timber is used for baseball bats and electric guitar bodies.

September brings the start of bat mating season. Male bats, like tiny beat boxers, purr, click and buzz (sadly out of our hearing range) to attract the females. One of the only mammals able to delay fertilisation, the female’s egg will not be fertilised until May. During October the bats busily feed, building up their fat reserves ready for colder temperatures which induce torpor and eventual hibernation in December. Hibernating bats are so sensitive to temperature variations that the radiant heat from one person may rouse a colony.

As dusk falls, high in the treetops, a clattering of Jackdaws gather nightly for a noisy and spectacular murmuration. Nobody knows why the birds do this before they roost for the night. From the Bowling Green pub, over Ivy Green and Turn Moss, the whirling and swooping performance evokes a bucolic call for home.

Victoria Johnson

A lacework of cobwebs, hung with dew on a plant
A picture of golden toadstools in a tree trunk
Toadstools. Pic: Jay Clarke.

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